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The Ultimate Guide to Building a Google Ads Funnel that Increases ROI

14 min
Updated:

With millions of searches made daily, Google is one of the best places to invest your paid marketing dollars.

Not only does the platform let you reach millions of users around the whole world, but it also promises a pretty decent return on investment.

Data shows that Google Search and Ads can get you an ROI of up to $8 for every $1 spent, while Google Ads alone can get you an ROI of $2 for every $1 spent.

To reach these results, however, you really need to be smart with your Google ads approach. One of the best techniques to follow is the Google ads funnel strategy.

Get ahead of the competition with our Google Search Ads for Beginners email course. Learn the ins and outs of creating effective ad campaigns that attract customers and deliver outstanding results.

What is a Google ads funnel strategy?

The Google Ads funnel is a marketing technique where you tailor several campaigns to fit the different stages of the buyer’s journey. So, you’ll have different Google ads campaigns for attracting leads, nurturing them, and converting them into paying customers. 

A good strategy will even go as far as helping you turn the customers into brand advocates. 

The google advertising funnel has three primary stages. 

  • Top of the funnel – This is where you create brand awareness and attract leads
  • Middle of the funnel – In the consideration stage, you’ll create ad content for leads considering investing in a solution.
  • Bottom of the funnel – This stage will target warm leads who are ready to buy.

The Google ads funnel strategy takes a similar path as a sales funnel. However, with the former, you use paid advertising to promote the right content to the right audience at the right time. 

Why is Google ads funnel strategy the right approach? 

Four times as many people are likely to click paid search ads on Google than on other search engines. Unfortunately, most people are also reluctant to spend on unfamiliar brands. 

Therefore, you may create great Google Ads, target the right keywords, and have great Google ads bidding strategies but fail to convert the traffic simply because searchers are not familiar with your brand. This is one of the key gaps a Google ads funnel strategy bridges.

The strategy helps you target prospects at multiple touchpoints from the top of the funnel all the way to the bottom of the funnel. Potential leads at the top of the funnel will learn about your brand while they’re still seeking answers to their questions. They’ll also interact with your brand as they enter the consideration stage.

Converting these leads at the bottom of the funnel will be much easier since they already know about you.

The Google ads funnel strategy also helps address the other elephant in the room – Google ads costs. The CPC has been rising across many industries, including the retail category.

Graph showing US Google Paid Search Growth Metrics: Cost Per Click (CPC), by Retail Product Category, Q3 2021.
The rise of Google ad costs (Source)

One of the biggest benefits of Google ads is that you can target prospects using keywords with high buying intent. The funny this is that that is also one of Google ads’ biggest undoing. 

Most brands bid for those keywords driving their cost per click off the roof. And as the cost per click rises, the profit margins can shrink really fast.

The Google ads funnel strategy lets you target less competitive keywords with lower CPC. And since it helps nurture prospects, it can also optimize your ads’ conversion rate and ROI. That’s because most people interacting with those ads are already familiar with your brand.

How to create a Google Ads funnel that generates conversions

The Google ads funnel has so much potential, but only if you execute it correctly. So here is how to create a high-converting Google ads funnel:

Stage 1. ToFu: build awareness and attract cold audiences. 

At the top of the funnel, you are essentially targeting cold leads or strangers who probably don’t know your brand. However, they are seeking answers or solutions relevant to your brand.

Therefore, the goal is to introduce your brand to the strangers and get them into your funnel. But you have to do so by offering informational resources that answer their questions. This is not the time to try and convert the cold leads. 

Generally, you can target these audiences with four Google ads campaign types: 

  • Search ads  
  • Google discovery ads 
  • Display campaigns 
  • Video ads 

Your cold audiences are also people with a problem related to your niche. If you can solve this problem, you’ll give them a gentle nudge towards eventually buying from you. 

So, your search campaigns should be more solution-oriented than a push-to-buy. 

In essence, you want to target informational keywords, including how-tos and keywords that offer solutions to particular problems. 

Here’s an example for “what is web hosting.”

Example of upper funnel campaigns on Google.

Users searching what web hosting is and how it works might not be ready to invest in a solution yet. It’s also possible that they don’t even know about Bluehost and other web hosting providers.

Still, Bluehost has bid on this keyword as it helps them introduce potential customers to their funnel. Also, if you click on that ad, you’ll notice they’re not trying to sell anything to the leads. 

The search term has informational search intent. Bluehost satisfies that intent by providing a helpful guide on web hosting.

Bluehost links upper funnel ads to helpful resources.
Bluehost links upper-funnel ads to helpful resources (Source)

Apart from search campaigns, you can also attract ToFu audiences via discovery campaigns. 

A discovery campaign lets you reach cold prospects and generate buzz around your brand on Google feeds. Depending on your choice, your audiences will see these ads across Gmail, YouTube, Google applications, etc. 

Again, when setting up your discovery ads, never try to sell right away. Instead, emulate Shopify, offering informational, helpful content to generate awareness, as shown below.

Shopify uses google feed ads to target audience at the top of the funnel.
Shopify uses google feed ads to target audiences at the top of the funnel. (Source)

When setting up your target audiences on your Google ads account, you can set the campaign to target only audiences relevant to your niche, as shown below. Thus, you’ll only be capturing qualified leads. 

Picking the right audience for your ads.
Picking the right audience for your ads. (Source)

Thirdly, you can draw the eyes of many to your brand using display ads. Like discovery campaigns, this works even if the audiences are not searching for you. 

You can disseminate these ads across apps and websites on the Google display network. There are over two million of these websites and apps. And they can help you reach 90% of internet users

Display ads let you target specific keywords, as shown below. This helps you maximize your ad spend by ensuring the ads appear under relevant websites.

Selecting the right keywords for your upper funnel PPC campaigns.
Selecting the right keywords for your upper funnel PPC campaigns. (Source)

Here’s an example of a ToFu display ad by Salesforce:

Salesforce uses display ads for their marketing campaigns.
Salesforce uses display ads for their marketing campaigns. (Source)

Finally, you can generate awareness for your brand using video campaigns. Video ads help pass information and context better than texts and images can. For Google, most of the video campaigns are on YouTube. 

With attention-grabbing video ads, you will generate views and bring more qualified leads to your website. 

Advisably put out these video ads using the TrueView format. TrueView has multiple display options, allowing advertisers to optimize ad spend. With in-stream ads, you’re not paying any amount until someone watches at least 30 seconds of your video ad, or, if it’s shorter than 30 seconds until someone watches it in its entirety.

Be sure to include calls to action on the landing pages of these ads. These calls to action should focus on taking the relationship you just formed a bit further. 

Thus, you could offer prospects other informational and educational content as lead magnets. These include downloadable pdfs, interactive tools, cheat sheets, checklists, workbooks, etc. You can integrate lead form extensions on your website to offer any of these in exchange for their email address.

Use the contact information to send the prospects more personalized content to nurture them further. 

Stage 2. MoFu – drive consideration among warm audiences

In the middle of the funnel, you want to capture audiences who have already come in contact with your ToFu ads. And as such, they may be considering taking the next step of purchasing. 

Note that MoFu audiences are not necessarily those your ToFu ads piqued their interest. They may as well be random people researching solutions to a problem they have. So they might not have interacted with your previous ads, but they’re considering a product that you have. 

Generally, these audiences are called warm leads. Now, this stage aims to gently introduce your product as the one that fits their bill perfectly. 

Search campaigns are still very much relevant at this stage of the funnel. But instead of offering information-related ads, this stage focuses more on your product or service. 

With the GetResponse search ads tool, you can create MoFu search campaigns by setting highly specific criteria. You get to incorporate MoFu keywords, set your ideal persona, and bring in only precisely targeted leads. 

The keywords used in this funnel stage are usually generic and not product-specific. They could be keywords related to the industry in general or keywords for a product category. 

Here, you’ll find keywords like “shoes for men” and “clothes to wear for summer.” These keywords also often feature modifiers such as best, top-rated, etc. 

Here’s another example: 

Bluehost middle of the funnel search ad campaigns.
Bluehost middle-of-the-funnel search ad campaigns

Warm audiences are more inclined to search keywords comparing one product to another. 

For instance, someone comparing Asana vs Jira is most likely considering a project management tool. However, they might need more time before they’re ready to buy. 

These keywords are typically searched by people who are more willing to take action than those in the previous stage. However, they are still less likely to buy if they can’t find the right fit. 

So, your search campaign promotion and copies should focus on driving warm audiences to see your products as the best fit. 

Your landing page should further engage them, offering a glimpse of what your product could do. You can provide a CTA asking the users to book a demo or enroll for a free trial. 

Another type of ad campaign for the MoFu stage is remarketing campaigns. Remember, we targeted some cold leads in stage 1. 

Now, it’s time to warm them up by retargeting them with MoFu content. 

Cold leads that are ready to be warmed up are usually those who visited your website or landing page or viewed your YouTube videos.

With Google remarketing campaigns, you can easily rekindle the interests of these cold audiences and drive them to start considering your product.

Both display and video ads work great for remarketing. However, as expected, the content here will differ from how you used them in the previous stage. Now, you want to place attention on your product or service. 

You can set up a remarketing campaign on YouTube to reach these audiences. The platform lets you reach the previously targeted cold leads, as shown below. 

Setting up remarketing campaigns on YouTube.
Setting up remarketing campaigns on YouTube. (Source)

You can also target users who visited particular pages or used your website before. Google display ads let you set these parameters, as shown below. 

Remarketing campaigns for audiences that visited your page.
Remarketing campaigns for audiences that visited your page. (Source)

Here’s what a typical MoFu display ad looks like. 

MoFu display campaigns.
MoFu display campaigns. (Source)

Remember that we also want to avoid users already at the BoFu stage. So, you can exclude them from your campaign, as shown below. 

How to exclude irrelevant audiences from your remarketing campaigns.
How to exclude irrelevant audiences from your remarketing campaigns. (Source)

Note that display ads and video ads do not only work for remarketing, but they can also help you steal cold leads from your competitors. 

In essence, you can also use these campaigns to target audiences who have never interacted with your brand but are actively considering something similar. 

Stage 3. BoFu – convert hot audiences 

Suppose you’ve followed the best google ads practices mentioned so far. Then, you should have your database brimming with warm leads. This is where you nudge the hot leads to cross the line and make a purchase.  

Your focus at this stage should be users who have interacted previously with your MoFu ads and those who search keywords with high buying intent. 

There are three ways to reach out to these target audiences. We can reach the first audiences using remarketing. However, for those searching for high-buying intent keywords, the best approach is your search campaigns. 

For search campaigns, users in this stage are most likely to search using “buy,” “get,” “coupon codes,” etc.,  as prefixes. These are called transactional keywords. 

Here’s an example of a result for such a BoFu keyword (buy plugins online). 

Bottom of the funnel search ads.
Bottom of the funnel search ads.

BoFu keywords can also be location-based when users are seeking local solutions. These keywords usually end with terms like near me, around me, etc. 

There are also branded keywords that you can bid for. These are keywords related to specific brands. So if you perhaps sell Gucci sunglasses in your store, you can bid for the keyword “buy Gucci sunglass,”  Branded keywords can be quite expensive to bid on, though.

The next type of campaign to target BoFU audiences is remarketing. This campaign works similarly to what we did in the MoFu stage. You can use video ads or display ads for remarketing. 

However, when remarketing to your bottom-of-the-funnel audiences, you need more to convince them. So, your display ads copy should contain deals, discounts, and other incentives to catalyze their decisions.

You can also retarget hot leads who had previously viewed a product but did not buy. These audiences are more inclined to buy than those who are yet to take any step.

For instance, suppose a customer checked out Mount Sinai’s landing page without eventually purchasing. When they leave the website, they may come across a display ad, as shown below. 

Retargeting campaigns for bottom of the funnel audiences.
Retargeting campaigns for bottom-of-the-funnel audiences. (Source)

Also, you can create video adverts showing clickable CTAs. Here’s an example. 

BoFu video advertisements on YouTube.
BoFu video advertisements on YouTube. (Source)

Below the video descriptions, YouTube allows you to include shoppable and relevant ads that can compel people to frequent your store. 

Here’s an example. 

Using shoppable ads on YouTube to generate conversions.
Using shoppable ads on YouTube to generate conversions. (Source)

Besides including incentives and offers, the ideal ad copy for this stage should include prices, guarantees, and, if possible, social proof. 

Social proof makes these leads more confident in your solution. That’s because others are testifying that your brand is the real deal, making leads trust you more. And this trust can increase your conversion rates by up to 380%

Further, be sure to incorporate a sense of urgency in your sales copy when offering deals. Keep these leads from overthinking your offers. You could include a limited offer tag or anything else showing the deal won’t last forever. Here’s an example. 

Use time-limited offers to speed up conversions.
Use time-limited offers to speed up conversions. (Source)

Note that your relationship with these customers does not end after they make a purchase. So, keep your brand in touch with them through emails, social media, and other channels. Keep nurturing them till they become loyal and can eventually advocate your brand to others.

Conclusion

It’s difficult fully maximize your marketing ROI without the Google ads funnel. However, the mere presence of the funnel doesn’t guarantee successful Google ads. Your Google ads funnel strategy has to be spot on to reap its benefits.

In this article, you learned how to configure the Google ads funnel. We showed you the different types of ads to use at the different stages of the buyer’s journey. We also showed you how to write each ad copy. Combine that with the examples we shared, and you should be well on your way to creating an effective Google ads funnel.

Need a tool to help you create the perfect ads for your Google ads? Check out the GetResponse Paid Ads creator. You can get started with the tool for free today — no credit card required.

Google Partner Badge.

Pro tip: Not sure about investing in your first ad campaign? Remember that you can get up to $500 in free Google Ads credit when you spend your first $500 with Google Ads. Google will automatically match any amount you spend on ads for the first 30 days, up to $500 (or currency equivalent).


Michal Leszczynski
Michal Leszczynski
Meet Michal Leszczynski, Head of Content Marketing and Partnerships at GetResponse. With 10+ years of experience, Michal is a seasoned expert in all things online marketing. He’s a prolific writer, skilled webinar host, and engaging public speaker. Outside of business hours, Michal shares his wealth of knowledge as an Email Marketing lecturer at Kozminski University in Warsaw. You can reach out and connect with Michal on LinkedIn.